The UK government has scrapped plans to create its own centralized COVID-19 contact tracing app and instead will announce that it will use the API solution created by Apple and Google, the BBC reports.
The news follows multiple delays in the UK’s release of a contact tracing app, which was originally scheduled for a May launch.
The Apple/Google Exposure Notification API preserves users’ privacy while also offering improved battery life and performance.
Apple debuted the Exposure Notification API as part of its iOS 13.5 update, including it as a part of the system frameworks. The API is not enabled by default and requires users to install an app from their government that takes advantage of the API. However, governments have been slow to adopt the system.
The UK originally planned to use a centralized tracking model with the contact tracing app regularly communicating back to a centralized server, to collect data and identify individuals that had been exposed to COVID-19.
The Apple/Google API uses a decentralized anonymous approach. It allows users to be notified when someone that reports positive for COVID-19 was in their immediate area but does not allow identifiers to directly be traced back to an individual by the government. Apps using the API can run efficiently in the background with a negligible impact on the device’s battery life.
At this time it isn’t known how long it will that the UK government to implement the changes and release the new app to users. We’ll keep you posted.